The Little Things

It’s Wandering Wednesday again and today’s photo theme prompt is – the little things.

dragonfly

A while back, I went hiking with a friend …. a non photographer friend, and although I left my camera behind (I know, what was I thinking ūü§£) that didn’t stop me from looking around and noticing all the potential photo compositions along with all the less than obvious little things, but things that are still photo worthy.

Through the Lens

Looking at life through the lens of my camera has taught me to be more observant. I guess I hadn’t realized this fact until my non-photographer hiking companion commented, “I can’t believe all the little things you notice. If you hadn’t pointed out these things, I never would’ve seen the interesting rocks, leaves, flowers or bugs”.

barbed wire morning fog

noticing the little details – dew dripping off barbed wire on a foggy morning

Do you see things that you’re friends don’t?

I know I do. What’s interesting though is when I’m out on an adventure or hike with a fellow photographer, it’s not uncommon for each of us to point out different photo-ops. It’s always fun comparing photographs after a photographic outing with a friend.

Artistic vision is definitely an individual matter, and we all notice and see things in a different way.

wildflowers at Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho

Tiny delicate wildflowers at Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID

For this weeks Wandering Wednesday theme …

Let’s share photographs of the little things we see. Things that aren’t initially in your face obvious. Things that take a moment of observation to discover. Little things we notice because we look at life through the lens of a camera …. a camera that has helped us see the little things that perhaps our friends don’t notice. Maybe its a unique center piece at a restaurant, or a pattern in the sand, or maybe you stumbled upon an interesting bug or nest.

Share a photograph of something little, something less obvious, something that took you a moment of observance to see.

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Photo Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo prompt as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like minded bloggers. Perhaps this prompt will serve as a little inspiration to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your photo archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy ūü§ó share those photos!

Upcoming prompts – Food, Landscapes, Garden …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

dragonfly

photography

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JOBY GorillaPod SLR Zoom
Hiking Waist Pack

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Discovering Lakes in Arizona

There’s a saying in America’s southwest … “Whiskey’s fer drink’n and water’s fer fight’n over!” In a nutshell, water in the western United States is a precious commodity worth fighting over and fight they did back in the 1800’s. Gosh, even today, states continue to fight over water rights all the time, but instead of gunshots being slung, you’ll find attorney’s slinging water rights paperwork. Yeah, there’s beaucoup bucks in water rights … take note any young aspiring attorney.

Watson Lake Prescott Arizona

Watson Lake, Prescott, Arizona

I grew up in the Midwest where water was never an issue. Sure, we occasionally experienced a summer drought when communities would implement water usage restrictions. Such restrictions were usually centered around limiting homeowners to the frequency of lawn sprinkling or car washing.

With an abundance of lakes and rivers in the Midwest, Al and I had dreams of one day owning lake front property. Oh, we came close a couple of times buying something in Wisconsin or Minnesota, but eventually logic ruled and our dream was always put on the back burner. Ah, such young responsible adults we were!

Goldwater Lake Prescott Arizona

Goldwater Lake, Prescott, Arizona – this lake reminds me of northern Minnesota

Gunflint Lake Minnesota

Al paddling in northern Minnesota – 1988

Once we moved west, that dream became even more elusive considering lake front property in the western United States is a rarity. Most lakes are used for water storage … reservoirs. Maintaining a clean water source is top priority in a land where water is a precious commodity. Considering water is not taken for granted in Arizona, it makes a body of water that much more special and appreciated.

Because of our love of water, lakes in particular, Al and I enjoy exploring and searching out those bodies of water whenever we have the opportunity.

Lakes around Prescott, Arizona

Within a thirty minute drive or less from our RV Park here in Prescott Valley, we have access to four lovely little lakes. All allow kayaking as well as offer picnic areas and a great trail system. I used to think Watson Lake was my favorite lake around here until I discovered the other lakes in the area.

Watson Lake Prescott Arizona

Watson Lake, Prescott, Arizona

Last summer I spent a great deal of time hiking around the unique boulder laden landscape titled Granite Dells. Willow Lake and Watson Lake are both man-made reservoirs located within the Granite Dells area of Prescott and the scenery is so unique that it calls for regular visits.

Watson Lake Prescott Arizona

Watson Lake, Prescott, Arizona

I loved hiking around this fascinating landscape – up and down the various trails, exploring all the nooks and crannies around every boulder until …. until the¬†snake encounter. Yeah, the sound of a rattle from a Diamondback can get the heart pounding and quickly take the joy out of any hike. After that experience, it was time for me to search out a few different trail options.

Once I discovered Lynx Lake and Goldwater Lake, I became smitten with them. Talk about a contrast of landscapes. Where as Watson Lake and Willow Lake are surrounded by a mostly barren, lumpy rock landscape, Lynx Lake and Goldwater Lake are nestled in a forest of wonderfully scented tall pine trees providing some nice cooling shade.

Goldwater Lake Prescott Arizona

Once again these are man-made reservoirs serving as water storage, but also offer some nice recreation for the public’s enjoyment.

Lynx Lake was the perfect spot for my friend, Rachael, and me to meet for lunch and catch up on our travels. I met Rachael a couple of years ago up in Arco, Idaho. She was on a one year solo RV adventure, and we had an immediate connection once we started talking cameras, which then lead to a couple of photographic outings together. Ever since our Idaho connection, we’ve stayed in touch. Rachael has since given up the RV life and now lives full-time in Sedona, Arizona … not too far from me which made meeting in Prescott easily doable.

picnic at Lynx Lake Prescott Arizona

enjoying a picnic lunch at Lynx Lake with a friend

During our Idaho time together, Rachael had made lunch for me, and now this was the perfect opportunity for me to reciprocate. Once again, our cameras were brought along for the outing and plenty of shutter time was shared after our tummies were filled. Even Rachael was pleasantly surprised with the beautiful lakes seen around Prescott.

Although these four little lakes might not be impressive to the average Midwesterner, they are a treasure to an Arizonan. I for one appreciate it when these reservoirs are full of water and pristine. I make it a point to take full advantage of their beauty while they’re in my current backyard … okay, I’m not saying they’re literally in my backyard considering it takes me at least twenty minutes to drive to any one of them, but hey, in Arizona I’ll take whatever kind of water front I can. The short drive is worth those water views any day.

Lake Pleasant Phoenix Arizona

Lake Pleasant, northwest of Phoenix, Arizona

More Arizona Lakes worth noting …

Since our children live in Phoenix, Arizona, we spend several months every year during the winter hanging around the Phoenix valley. That has given us the perfect opportunity to search out and explore many of the scenic lakes (rather reservoirs) in the area.

Lake Pleasant is located on the far northwest side of the valley and used to be a regular camping spot for us. The sunsets here are some of the most spectacular that I’ve ever seen. Absolutely stunning!

Saguaro Lake, Canyon Lake, Apache Lake, and Roosevelt Lake are all located on the far east side of the valley in the Tonto National Forest. This string of reservoirs are all connected via the Salt River and each body of water offers unique scenery and plenty of boating recreation.

Salt River Arizona

The Salt River – photographed below Saguaro Lake.

Bartlett Reservoir¬†is located to the far northeast of Scottsdale and also within the Tonto National Forest. This lovely body of water takes a little longer to get to from the heart of Phoenix but so worth the drive, and if you don’t need internet connection, you can enjoy camping right along her beautiful shores.

Eastern Arizona –

We still have yet to spend much time in Arizona’s White Mountains. We enjoyed a brief taste last August during a short visit with our friends in Pinetop. This eastern side of the state reminds me of parts of Colorado. No, you won’t find any tall majestic mountains here, but you will find a landscape of large hills or little mountains surrounded by pine forests and dotted with lakes. Yep, there are lakes all over and stocked with enough fish to satisfy most anglers.

White Mountains in eastern Arizona

White Mountains – eastern Arizona

This is a beautiful part of Arizona that should not be missed and begs for more exploring on our part. But do note, this is a summer destination for RVers and plan on sharing this landscape with lots of desert dwellers who like to spend weekends in the White Mountains. The mountains serve as the perfect escape from the extreme summer heat found in the Phoenix valley.

Northern Arizona –

In the northern section of Arizona, you’ll find the city of Flagstaff and the Coconino National Forest. Once again, the forested landscape offers a bunch of little lakes, some of which I’d say are more like an over-sized pond than a lake, but hey it’s Arizona and water is water …. don’t dis the body of water. We’ll take it any which way we can … pond, lake, river, creek … water is life!

Lake Powell

Lake Powell at the Arizona – Utah border

But if size matters to you, than it’s time to head to the Arizona-Utah border and the shores of Lake Powell. Here you can boat to your heart’s content or until you run out of gas, which happens to boaters all the time. Yeah, it’ll literally take you days to boat the length of Lake Powell and a boat load of gasoline too.

Lake Havasu Arizona

boating with friends on Lake Havasu, Arizona

Western Arizona –

If Lake Powell’s a little too big for your taste, then Lake Havasu on the Arizona-California border might be more to your liking. We’re fortunate to have friends that live in Lake Havasu City and own a pontoon boat. Oh yeah – loved getting out on the water.

Lake Havasu

Yep, I’m a happy camper out boating on Lake Havasu.¬† Photo taken mid February. So while folks in the east were shoveling snow, I was enjoying a day on the water… no coat needed!

Southern Arizona –

Oh my goodness, I haven’t even touched on the southern half of the state where we really enjoyed Patagonia State Park and the lovely water setting seen there. So many more lakes to discover!

Hot and Dusty …

In a state where the words hot and dusty are used often, it’s no wonder the diverse landscape and fresh bodies of water are such a delightful surprise to many a visitor. I know all these picturesque lakes have been a fun and fantastic adventure discovering during our travels throughout the state.

No surprise our wheels have barely rolled across the Arizona state line this past year with so much picturesque scenery to discover and still so much more to see. Now if only I could figure out a way to fold up that pontoon boat and store it in the belly of the RV …¬† then I’d really be in tall cotton!

Lake Powell

Camping near water is the next best thing to owning lake front property – oh yeah, a gal could get used to a lake front yard like this!

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Picnic Backpack With Cooler Compartment
Inflatable SUP Stand Up Paddleboard

Sunsets – A Photo Prompt

I’m not sure if I prefer sunrises or sunsets …. both can be pretty spectacular and can offer either the perfect way to start the day or the perfect way to end a day.

sunset over Lake Pleasant Arizona

Lake Pleasant, Arizona

Yeah, I’d say enjoying happy hour while watching the sun set is a pretty darn good way to end a day. Can you think of a better way?

Sunset at San Diego California

San Diego, California

Wandering Wednesday Photo Theme – Sunset

Join me for this weeks photo challenge by sharing photographs of Sunsets.

sunset at the beach

Copano Bay, Texas Gulf Coast

We’d love to see YOUR sunset photos. So let’s share and connect … join in and share a link in the comments below or link back to this blog in your own post.

Split Rock Lighthouse Lake Havasu Arizona

Split Rock Lighthouse replica – Lake Havasu, Arizona

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo prompt as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like minded bloggers. Perhaps this prompt will serve as a little inspiration to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your photo archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy ūü§ó share your photos!

Upcoming prompts – the Little Things, Food, Landscapes, Garden, Birds …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

(affiliate links)
 Portable Camping Chair
Unbreakable Stemless Wine Glasses

Citrus Rum Chicken & my Health

I find travel to be exhilarating and energizing but at the same time exhausting. Kind of seems illogical, huh! I also think it’s somewhat difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle while on the go. Not that it can’t be done … it just takes a little more forethought and planning.

sitting on the dock of the bay

Sitting on the dock of the bay, watching my diet slip away …. ūü§£

Socializing and traveling …

When I add in a bunch of socializing along with our travels, I find myself getting easily derailed when it comes to my dietary restrictions and healthy eating plan. It’s easy for me to stick to my health plan when we’re hanging with friends that also focus on eating healthy and exercising, but unfortunately, some of our friends do not share those same goals, in which case, I get distracted.

I don’t have what I’d call food allergies, but I do suffer from food sensitivities. In essence, I can eat anything I want without the effects necessitating an EpiPen, but I do struggle with other less obvious aliments caused by eating foods I shouldn’t …. issues that can severely impact my energy, physical well being and ability to travel.

We spent the first three months of the year hanging with dear friends in Lake Havasu City, and as much as we thoroughly enjoyed our time with our friends and loved exploring western Arizona, we didn’t fair so well with our goal of healthy eating.

Unfortunately, Al and I both gained some weight during that visit which is always frustrating, and I started feeling less than ideal. Hmm, aren’t January and February the months when everyone starts a new diet and exercise regimen? I think we missed that memo!

Not everyone understands food sensitivities …. gosh, I’m not even sure I do. However, through a lot of trial and error, I’ve come to realize, it’s a lot like the straw that broke the camels back .… a cumulative effect of small actions which turns into an unpredictable large reaction.

great egret

No need to get your feathers ruffled

Not wanting to be a party pooper or ruffle anyone’s feathers, I try not to make a big deal about my food issues during social gatherings. After all, it’s not like I’m going to have a life threatening¬†anaphylactic reaction to eating something I shouldn’t.

But after three months of socializing along with all the food indulgences, there was a final straw … the straw that broke this camel’s back. Sometime toward the middle of March, I started feeling like crap. My energy plummeted, I felt physically ill, and my mind was in a constant fog. I had trouble functioning, and I was not having fun!

Fast Forward …

Today, after focusing on diet and exercise the past few months, I’m fortunately feeling better than I have in quite sometime, and Al and I have even lost the weight we gained earlier in the year …. well …. Al more so than me.

One of the reasons (one of several) why we decided to curtail our travels this summer was so we could focus on our health. We wanted to look and feel our best for our son’s wedding this August, and the last thing I wanted was to experience his special day with my head in a fog.

picnic

Even while traveling, we try to stayed focused on our health by having healthy homemade meals and snacks prepared ahead of time, but it isn’t always easy. Sure, when we’re out exploring and hiking we get in plenty of exercise, but it’s also easy to fall into the category of I don’t¬†feeling like cooking,¬†or that restaurant we just passed looks interesting so let’s check it out, or let’s just grab some fast food (something we do our very best to avoid … but occasionally fail). I wish I was more “into” cooking. Perhaps I wouldn’t get distracted so easily and succumb to all those temptations!

During our stay in Page this past April, I got back in the kitchen and started focusing on meal planning. Since we were out and about regularly hiking and exploring in northern Arizona, we didn’t need to think about an exercise plan, at least not until we moved to Prescott.

Once Al and I were settled into a RV Park in Prescott, Arizona, for the summer, we formulated a regular exercise routine complete with the addition of a little yoga. I found this great¬†beginners Yoga¬†DVD that I started doing regularly and all was going great until ….

ducking doing warrior pose yoga

Warrior Pose – my version looked a little different from Mrs. Duck’s version

… until I pulled something in my neck while doing Warrior Pose. Seriously? Oh, but my luck didn’t end there. Oh no! The following week, I twisted my ankle while hiking which has left me unable to perform Tree Pose on my left leg ūü§¶‚Äć‚ôÄÔłŹ

Egyptian Goose at sunset

tree pose at sunset

Oh well, this too shall pass! After icing the neck and taping up the ankle, I’ve been hobbling over to the local library and returning to the RV with a stack of books on cooking and health … anything to help inspire my active brain while my inactive body recuperates.

With my exercise plan derailed, guess I’ll be wearing Spanx to the wedding. See, there are always options when things don’t go according to plan. RV living has a way of teaching one to be flexible and to expect the unexpected. Actually, flexibility is a prerequisite for RVing. Trust me, it’s in the rule book somewhere!

Back in the kitchen …

Okay, so the exercising hasn’t gone according to plan for me (Al’s doing great ūü§¨ and getting in all his steps every day), but while he’s out exercising, I’m excelling in the kitchen and feeling so much better for my efforts.

picnic

No, we didn’t eat all that! The muffins were for friends, but I thought they’d look pretty in the photo. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Food sensitivities are real!

So back to my food issues … When a person has a severe food allergy or a medical condition like Celiac disease, Western Medicine seems to know exactly what to do, but food sensitivities are not so clear or easily diagnosed.

For many, the journey can be a roller coaster ride, as it has been for me. Ultrasounds and CT Scans were inconclusive and provided no answers for my pain. Several years ago, a visit to a Functional Practitioner was helpful and enlightening. There has been a lot of trial and error along with note taking on my part and the journey continues.

look in the mirror a journey of self-discovery

Looking in the mirror and being honest with myself is the best thing I’ve done for my health.

What might work for me, may not work for another person. One thing I know for sure …. I can’t ignore the fact that I can’t eat what others can. Yes, such a bummer and very frustrating, and when I do ignore that fact, it’s the beginning of a downward spiral for me. Food sensitivities are real regardless if other’s disagree.

Let’s talk food …

So let’s talk about what I can eat …. Yay, I won’t starve! Chicken, my favorite protein and my stomach is never bothered by chicken. Whether it’s grilled, roasted, or sauteed … dark meat vs. light meat, doesn’t matter, I like it all.

One of my favorite things to do is marinade and grill a bunch of chicken one day and then use leftovers for the following day – cook once, eat twice, or sometimes even three times. I quite often plan this before a travel day which deters any urge for going out to eat. Not only does this help keep my diet in check, it helps keep us on budget.

Here’s my favorite chicken marinade recipe. The amount listed here is about right for 4 chicken thighs or 2 boneless chicken breasts. If you’d like to make more chicken, just double the recipe. You’ll want to marinade the chicken for at least 2 hours and more is even better. I prefer to then grill the chicken, but baking also works.

Citrus Rum Chicken Marinade recipe

In a large ziplock bag combine:
1/4 cup of lime juice
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of rum (I like to use Captain Morgan spiced rum)
1 Tablespoon of honey
salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 cloves of minced fresh garlic
a pinch (or two) of cayenne pepper (optional)
chopped cilantro (optional)

Once all the ingredients are well combined, add the chicken to the ziplock bag and place in the refrigerator to marinade, turning occasionally.

Food photograph of chicken with a side salad

Citrus Rum Chicken

Let me know if you give this chicken recipe a try and what you think about it! I like to grill up a double batch of chicken and use the leftovers the next day to make chicken and lettuce wraps with a drizzle of homemade honey mustard dressing. Yum! The wraps can be seen in the picnic photos further up in the post. Having healthy meals prepared ahead of time for our travel days makes the world of difference. We maintain a higher level of energy and clarity throughout the day. No junk food for this gal!

One thing that has become very clear to me these past few months is staying healthy, active and mobile is the key to an enjoyable life … the key to enjoying our adventurous lifestyle of full-time RVing. Happy noshing!

 

(affiliate links)
Gentle Yoga: 7 Beginning Yoga Practices
The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity

Patriotic

It’s the fourth of July in the United States of America and time for barbecues and fireworks.

We think of July 4th as Independence Day…. the day¬†that represents the birth of the United States of¬†America¬†as an independent nation. The Continental Congress declared independence on July 2, 1776 but July 4, 1776 was the actual day that they¬†approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence.

How did the Fourth of July become a national holiday in the United States of America?

In 1817, John Adams complained that America seemed uninterested in its past. After the War of 1812, the Federalist party began to come apart and the new parties of the 1820s and 1830s all considered themselves inheritors of Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans.

In an attempt to increase interest in past history, printed copies of the Declaration were circulated with the date July 4, 1776, listed at the top.

The deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July 4, 1826, may have even helped to promote the idea of July 4th as being an important date to remember.

biplane

Celebrations of the Fourth of July became more common as the years went on. In 1870, Congress declared July 4th to be a national holiday as part of a bill to officially recognize several holidays including Christmas.

Wandering Wednesday Photo Prompt

For today’s photo theme, let’s share patriotic photographs. Think ¬†flags, fireworks, red, white and blue, or any other image that represents patriotic to you. Share and connect!

Phoenix

The¬†Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza¬†is a park located in front of the¬†Arizona¬†state capitol¬†complex in downtown¬†Phoenix, Arizona. It’s home to several¬†memorials¬†honoring prominent figures in Arizona history as well as memorializing significant¬†wars¬†and other events that have affected the state.

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Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Photo Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo prompt as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like minded bloggers. Perhaps this prompt will serve as a little inspiration to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your photo archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy ūü§ó share those photos!

Upcoming prompts – Sunsets, Food, Landscapes, Garden …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

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(affiliate links)

USA Flags
Mens t-shirt 
Womens 4th of July American Flag Shirt

 

Flowers

I don’t know about you, but I love flowers. They bring a smile to my face, and have a way of brightening up my day.

flower gardens in Denver Colorado

Denver, Colorado

I used to enjoy gardening when we lived in a sticks and bricks home, but living a nomadic life isn’t conducive to gardening. So to fulfill my passion for flowers, I enjoy visiting public gardens of all kinds as well as seek out fields of wildflowers in nature wherever I can.

roses

Wandering Wednesday Photo inspiration

For this weeks photo inspiration, prompt, challenge, theme (still haven’t decided what to call this ūü§£) …. let’s share images of flowers.

Wandering Wednesday ….

Next weeks photo theme is – Patriotic and the following Wednesday will be – Food.¬†¬†Start searching through your archives or get out there and shoot. Let’s share and connect!

(affiliate links)
Garden Tools Set
Collapsible & Expandable Plastic Vase
Set of 3 Reusable Grocery Bags

Wandering Wednesday – Water

With temperatures heating up and an abundance of sunshine gracing the skies, it’s time to hit the water. I love hanging around a picturesque lake or soft sandy ocean beach. I’m not the greatest swimmer, but I do enjoy and embrace all kinds of boating. You’ll even see me jump at the chance to float down a meandering river on an inner tube … throw in some tiny rapids, and the ten year old within me will emerge complete with giggles and screams.

Oh yeah, I never tire of the sight of a beautiful body of water!

reflection at the Grand Tetons Wyoming

Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Considering nearly 40% of the United States population live in coastal counties, counties directly on the shoreline, I’d say I’m not alone in my passion for water.

Jackson Lake Grand Tetons Wyoming

Jackson Lake – Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Photo inspiration

For this weeks photo inspiration … theme … challenge (whatever we want to call it) I’ve chosen WATER. Let’s share some favorite water images.

Lake Havasu Arizona sunset

sunset over Lake Havasu, Arizona

San Diego cruise ship pulling into port

San Diego – cruise ship pulling into port

From my archives

Digging through my archives I came across a couple of old photos that brought back fond memories ….

Boundary Waters Canoe Area northern Minnesota Canoe trip

Canoeing – Boundary Waters Canoe Area – northern Minnesota

We loved our canoe trips to northern Minnesota …. especially to Gunflint Lake which is located north of the town of Grand Marais and Lake Superior. I wish the quality of this photograph was better. If you look close, our 2 year old daughter is sitting between my legs while our 4 year old son sits in the center of the canoe. The white blob behind our son is our first Brittany Spaniel dog, Dallas … great dog who loved these adventures.

We started these camping / canoeing vacations to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area years before we had children. Once the children arrived, they added another element and joy to our adventures and never stopped us from embarking on these excursions.

open bow boat

I loved this little boat – so many fun times spent out on the water. Me driving while Bear sits behind me.

Horsetooth reservoir Fort Collins Colorado

I’m not sure who enjoyed the boat rides more – Bear or me!

Share and connect …

Feel free to join in – comment and share your “water” photos!

Upcoming prompts to keep in mind …

  • Next Wednesday – Flowers
  • the following Wednesday – Patriotic (think fireworks, picnic, flags, etc)
  • then – Food
Lake Powell

Lake Powell

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 Inflatable Sport Kayak

Beach Chair with Storage Pouch and Towel Bar

A Visit to Crested Butte, CO

Some places we visit will always hold a special place in our hearts and Crested Butte, Colorado is one of those places. We moved to Colorado in the mid nineties when our children were young, and the first Colorado mountain town we visited was Crested Butte.

This former flatlander from Illinois was awe-struck with the majestic snow-covered mountains surrounding Crested Butte. Our family of four was immediately smitten, and subsequent visits to this lovely Colorado mountain town ensued over the years.

wildflowers in Crested Butte ColoradoAlthough our first visit to Crested Butte was during the winter, Crested Butte is every bit as much fun during the summer as it is in winter. The town may be known for its awesome skiing and winter fun, but summers offer a whole slew of other activities. As a matter of fact, Crested Butte is considered the birth place of mountain biking. Although, I‚Äôm sure there are plenty of folks that might disagree with this statement. There’s an ongoing debate about where mountain biking originated ūüėŹ

This quaint little mountain town is also considered the Wildflower Capital of Colorado and home to the Wildflower Festival held each July when the mountain meadows are covered in blooms. Once Al and I became empty nesters, we skipped the winter excursions to the mountains and focused on embracing those summer get aways.

Lake Irwin Campground Colorado Crested Butte Keebler Pass

Lake Irwin Campground, near Crested Butte Colorado and Kebler Pass

A memorable trip

July 2012 – It‚Äôs three o‚Äôclock in the morning and the dog is shaking and can’t seem to get comfortable.¬† He‚Äôs laying in the tent on a blanket¬†near my side of the air mattress and he is clearly cold.¬† I grab my hoody¬†and cover him, and he falls back to sleep.¬† I‚Äôm glad one of us can¬†fall asleep so quickly.

After tossing and turning for a bit, I decide to step outside for a moment.¬† I reluctantly throw off the two layers of sleeping bags and¬†scurry to the foot of the air mattress¬†to put on my shoes.¬† No need to throw on clothes, since I’m already fully clothed in sweatpants and sweatshirt.¬† It‚Äôs cold at three in the morning camped at 10,000 feet in elevation …. as in 36 degrees Fahrenheit cold and this being mid July ūüėĮ

I’m not sure whose idea the tent camping excursion was considering we had a new 5th wheel sitting on the side of our house. Okay, it was my idea! We were such newbies at the time with the RV that we weren’t comfortable pulling it to the Lake Irwin Campground near Kebler Pass. Plus, there were only a couple of first come first serve campsites that we felt we would comfortably fit into.

camping near Crested Butte, Colorado at Lake Irwin

Our campsite at Lake Irwin near Crested Butte, Colorado

I quietly unzip the tent and crawl out. I‚Äôm immediately awestruck with the most incredible vision while my face is assaulted with a blast of cold air.¬† The stars and crescent moon are so vivid and bright that I have no¬†trouble seeing around the campsite.¬† I stand there taking in the incredible beauty surrounding me before I‚Äôm reminded as to why I‚Äôm standing outside the tent at three in the morning …. and shivering.

Hmm, I contemplate the walk to the restroom down the road. This is serious bear and mountain lion country.¬† Since I have no inclination of being some animal’s midnight snack, I quickly take care of business at the edge of our campsite. I continued to linger outside admiring the sky before the cold has me crawling back into a nice warm bed.

After what felt like only thirty minutes of sleep, I’m woken by a very restless Brittany Spaniel. It‚Äôs only 5:30 in the morning and I‚Äôve decided to rename my sweet little Bear‚Ķ..‚ÄĚdamn dog‚ÄĚ.¬† (ya know, I love my Brittany Spaniel and wouldn‚Äôt trade him for the world, but he wants a walk at fricken 5:30 in the morning in the fricken cold while it’s still dark outside). Al remains sound asleep …. grrrr!

camping at Lake Irwin near Crested Butte Colorado

tent camping at Lake Irwin near Crested Butte, CO – July 2012

Damn dog and I go for a stroll, not venturing too far from our campsite.¬† I‚Äôm the only two-legged creature out and about.¬† Did I already mention we‚Äôre camped in bear and mountain lion country?¬† I‚Äôm on alert!¬† ‚ÄúHurry up, damn dog‚ÄĚ.¬† Finally with his ‚Äúbusiness‚ÄĚ complete, we return to the warmth of sleeping bags and try to catch a few more winks of sleep.

By seven o‚Äôclock, the sun is rising and I hear other campers in the distance.¬† Al awakes and informs me how great he slept (damn husband).¬† In a not so pleasant voice, sleep deprived wife tells damn husband and damn dog, ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre going into town for breakfast.¬† I need a cup of strong black¬†coffee‚ÄĚ.

McGill's Crested Butte, Colorado for great breakfast and coffeeWe drive aimlessly around Crested Butte looking for a place for breakfast.  Eventually, Al has me pull to the side of the road and stop. He jumps out of the truck and walks over to a pretty blonde lady watering flowers.

He and blonde lady chuckle in a flirtatious engaging way (do I really care? NO … need coffee).¬† When Al hops back in the truck, he proceeds to tell me to drive up Elk Street three blocks.¬† “Blonde lady says¬†McGills serves a great breakfast”.¬† It was indeed a good breakfast, BUT the coffee was amazing and just what I needed.

A full tummy and two cups of coffee later, we‚Äôre back to ‚Äúdear husband‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúadorable Bear‚ÄĚ.¬† I love my boys! Al and I discuss exploratory options for the day, but first I need a little retail therapy.

Crested Butte ColoradoWe enter a T-shirt shop. Al and Bear head over to the counter where Al strikes up a conversation with the young man behind the counter. We love the fact that this town is so dog friendly that Bear is able to go with us everywhere except inside restaurants. 

We’re the only ones in the store and during the course of idol chit-chat with the shop clerk, he notes we drive a Toyota Tacoma. He drives a Toyota 4-Runner, sister to the Tacoma lol, and immediately recommends a backcountry scenic loop drive that we must experience.

We’re given a complimentary map along with a few pointers and warnings from this knowledgable local. Two t-shirts later, we hit the road heading into the backcountry … ready to explore.

dog friendly Crested Butte Colorado

Crested Butte is very dog friendly. Bear went everywhere with us.

A scenic drive

We head up Slate River Road, just north of the town of Crested Butte.  As expected, the pavement ends quickly.  We pass some beautiful homes early in the journey.  As we start to climb in elevation and the road starts to narrow, we see campers , ATVer’s as well as local wildlife.

Slate River Road Crested Butte Colorado

Slate River Road, Crested Butte, Colorado

Crested Butte backcountry 4x4

local wildlife – Moooove!

mountain homes near Crested Butte Colorado

Beautiful mountain homes dot the landscape near Crested Butte

A little further into the remote landscape, I finally start seeing some wildflowers.¬† Up to this point I wondered, ‚ÄúWildflower capital¬†of Colorado‚ÄĚ?¬† Say what?¬† The drought conditions severely affected the display of wildflowers during the summer of ’12. Even though the wildflowers weren’t impressive, the scenery was spectacular.

I usually drive during these exploratory excursions to maintain marital bliss, but more importantly to control photo-op stops. Yeah, I can go a little overboard with the photo-op stopping which can get a tad annoying for a non photographer ūü§ó Besides, Al says he likes being chauffeured¬†around by a pretty lady.¬† Awe, ain‚Äôt that sweet!

Slate River Road Crested Butte Colorado

Slate River Road – two-way traffic on this one lane road

We continue up Slate River Road.  It’s narrow but in good condition. This one-lane road is meant for two-way traffic which is why we like driving the Tacoma in lieu of the F-250 while exploring mountainous backcountry.

We pass the turn for Washington Gulch Road¬†and continue toward Schofield Pass.¬† The road gets narrower and more precarious. I can’t imagine two vehicles fitting on this road.

As we come around a blind switch back, we encounter¬†a truck loaded with people heading toward us.¬† The pickup truck is colored lime green and set up kind of like an open air safari vehicle with bench seating in the rear. “Oh dear! We are going to need to pass each other!”

I need to back up and get us as close to the side of the mountain as possible (thank goodness, I have the inside).¬† The other truck and I both pull in our outside mirrors and we slowly pass each other within inches. He‚Äôs the one on the outside edge and I can see his tourist passengers are wide-eyed and a tad nervous. One slip, and down the mountain they roll.¬† Once we successfully passed each other, the driver waves and comments, ‚ÄúThanks, we got‚Äôer‚ÄĚ, and the passengers started clapping.¬† Since this is¬†Wildflower Festival week, there are all kinds of additional tours, vehicle traffic and activities planned throughout the week.

Schofield Pass Mt. Baldy Crested Butte Colorado

Near Schofield Pass and Mt. Baldy – over 11,000 feet in elevation

We‚Äôre on the other side of Mt. Baldy¬†now and we stop for a much-needed break.¬† The scenery is breathtaking.¬† Al checks his phone and is shocked.¬† ‚ÄúIt works!‚Ä̬† No cell reception at the Lake Irwin campground, but it works up here.

This stretch of road is tame and easily navigated. Wish it had all been like this.

After a few photo-ops near Schofield Pass, we retrace that ledge of a road back to the Washington Gulch turn, all the while I pray I won’t have to pass anyone.  That would put me on the outside edge … yikes!  Fortunately my prayers are answered, and we don’t meet another vehicle for quite some time.

Washington Gulch Road Crested Butte Colorado

Washington Gulch Road – we saw more wildflowers along this stretch

Washington Gulch Road does present its own challenges with a small creek crossing, but nothing the little truck can’t handle. We also noticed a few RV’s boondocking off Washington Gulch Road.

(We were such RV newbies at that time, that we couldn’t imagine pulling our brand new RV to any of the boondocking locations we saw. Now? Piece of cake and we wouldn’t give it a second thought. But then again, our RV ain’t so new anymore … as evidenced by the dings and scratches and as one person recently referred to us …. we’re “seasoned” RVers ūüėŹ)

backcountry roads near Crested Butte Colorado

What a great Day!

We had such a fabulous time exploring this stunningly beautiful landscape that I would highly recommend this excursion to anyone with a high clearance vehicle. However, please check at the local visitor center in the town of Crested Butte for up to date road conditions, and do note, there are some areas where the road is literally cut into the side of a mountain causing severe drop-offs. Thus, I don’t recommend it for anyone with a fear of heights.

For a more tame backcountry excursion, we enjoyed driving Route 12 from Crested Butte to the tiny town of Paonia. Paonia is a small community with wineries, lavender and agricultural fields. No four-wheel drive needed when we took this drive in July of 2012. Please verify and double-check road conditions before embarking on this remote stretch of road over Kebler Pass.

Quaking Aspen at Kebler Pass

As Al and I continued to explore Colorado’s backcountry near Crested Butte, we take in the sights and sounds of the stunning terrain.  We travel from open mountain meadows, through scented pine forests, and pass through densely populated aspen groves.

Aspen Trees Keebler Pass near Crested Butte Colorado

Kebler Pass – forest of Aspen trees

The unique sound of quaking Aspen Leaves lures us in. The sound has us wondering¬† if there’s a gentle waterfall in the distance or is it merely the fluttering of aspen leaves?

This particular grove or colony of aspen trees along Kebler Pass is aspen treederived from a single seedling and spread by means of root suckers.¬† New stems in a colony may grow as far away as 130 feet from the parent tree. It’s kind of like there’s one mommy tree and all the rest of the aspen trees are children. Fascinating!

An individual tree can live¬† 40-150 years above ground, but the root system of the colony can live for hundreds of years. Legend¬†has it, the aspen tree can drive off evil spirits.¬† An aspen stake was believed to be one of the few weapons suitable to kill a vampireūüßõ‚Äć‚ôāÔłŹ

Colorado is synonymous with this famous white-barked tree, adorning golden leaves in the fall.  Colorado gold comes in many forms. Beautiful golden leaves dotting the landscape and the peaceful sound of quaking leaves are just a couple more reasons to love Colorado!

Aspen grove at Keebler Pass Crested Butte, Colorado

driving through an Aspen groove at Kebler Pass

Colorado gold

Colorado Gold in the fall.

For Coffee Lovers

After three days and four nights of tent camping near picturesque Crested Butte, it was time for us to break camp and head home, BUT first, we needed (or rather I needed) to have breakfast one more time at McGill’s to drink up some more of that yummy coffee.

breaking camp at Lake Irwin campground Crested Butte Colorado

Al breaking camp – it was fun, but I missed the comforts of the RV

Al is not normally a coffee drinker and when he does drink coffee he sticks with one of those designer concoctions like a macchiato or mocha, but after trying my cup of black coffee, he ordered a cup for himself ūüė≤

Camp 4 Coffee Crested Butte ColoradoWhile the waitress was refilling our coffee mugs, we mentioned how good the coffee was. She was quick to share the name and location of the local coffee roasters and the blend McGill’s uses.

With that said, we couldn’t possibly leave town without a visit to this coffee roaster.¬†Camp 4 Coffee is a locally owned Crested Butte business and has a cute little shop¬† just down the road from McGill’s.

There was no way I was leaving town without a bag or two of Camp 4 Coffee.  I purchased a couple of pounds of the Sledgehammer roast and a pound of the Blue Mesa blend which is the blend McGill’s serves.

Can you believe, after thirty plus years of marriage, I turned Al into a coffee drinker thanks to Camp 4 Coffee. He still prefers those designer coffee concoctions, but when I splurge and buy a special roast, he’ll join me in drinking his coffee black. Wonders never cease!

Yep, Crested Butte, Colorado remains one of our favorite mountain towns and holds special memories for our family!

Monarch Pass Colorado

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Wandering Wednesday

Can you believe I shot over 4,800 photographs during our five week stay camped near the Arizona РUtah border? That’s almost 1,000 photos a week. Yikes! Thank goodness digital photography is free, but then again, if I were paying for film I assure you that shutter wouldn’t have clicked nearly that often.

I‚Äôll admit, I am bad at culling and deleting photographs which does present a problem for my poor laptop. So as the hard-drive on my computer fills up, I transfer the files to a couple of external drives which frees up the laptop … much to my computer’s delight.

During the past week, I’ve been hard at work performing this task of photo file transfer, and while at it, I started reviewing some photographs from years past. Oh what fond memories, and I realized I need a reason to sift through these photos more often.

slot canyon

Question of the day

So the big question of the day is what should I do with all these photographs? What do YOU do with all your photographs? Since I live in a RV, space is obviously an issue. Therefore, I rarely print out any of my photographs, but I do like to share them. Although I have shared a great number of photographss here on the blog, there are still bunches of photographs that haven’t been shared, and photos I’ve even forgotten about. Hmm! The wheels in my head started turning ….

Through the Lens

Looking at life and landscapes through the lens of my camera has made me more observant. I see and notice things more acutely. My camera and this blog have given me added purpose … reason to explore, reason to photograph, reason to visit new places, reason to connect with YOU.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to make Wednesday’s my day to post photos with a theme in mind … kind of like the photo challenges and prompts we’ve been exposed to via blogging on WordPress. I’ll come up with an inspiration and share photos from either my archives or go in search with camera in hand – a purpose. I’m hoping you’ll join in and share your own photos pertaining to the weeks inspirational subject.

taking a selfie with the self timer on a digital camera

Let’s share and connect … join me in sharing photographs every Wednesday. Feel free to link back to this site, and/or leave a comment, but be sure your Gravatar is linked correctly so we can easily pop over and visit your site!

If you don’t write a blog, that’s okay, I’d still love for you to join in the Wandering Wednesday¬†photo inspiration and hopefully leave a comment. Perhaps the inspiration will give you purpose to pick up your camera or smart phone for a little shutter clicking or maybe it’ll serve as the impetus to go through your own collection of photographs.

Shutter Time

For my first photo inspiration, let’s post a photograph (s) of an animal / wildlife. This could be a simple photograph of a cute little bunny rabbit in your backyard, or your favorite pet, or that of a wild animal seen in nature or at a zoo. More than anything else, I hope the photograph is an image that’s special to you … an image that provokes emotion, or a fond memory, or the making of the image challenges you in some way.

Ingrid’s Inspiration

We’ve been camped in a RV Park in Prescott, Arizona for the past six weeks and I’ve barely touched my camera. Far cry from my shutter clicking in April, huh! RV Parks are usually not my preferred method of accommodation. I’d much rather be in a national park, national forest or state park surrounded by nature, but sometimes life dictates otherwise …. and those full hook-ups are awfully nice…. oh yeah, love the hook-ups!

pronghorn aka antelope in Arizona

Even though a RV Park is not normally at the top of my list, I’m extremely happy with my summer ‘home’.¬† I’m beyond pleased with my RV site as well as my view here in Prescott Valley, Arizona. There’s a fenced open field just across the road from my RV site where cattle and antelope graze.

pronghorn in ArizonaTaken with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200   106mm (35mm equivalent 590mm)

I was ecstatic to capture a couple of images of this sweet pregnant gal grazing. Antelope (proper name is pronghorn) are usually skittish and capturing a closeup image can be challenging, but with my zoom lens and a very slight crop, I think this photograph of her turned out well. Check out those eyelashes!

The day after these photos were taken, I didn’t see her again. I’m sure she delivered her little one by now and is staying hidden. But trust me, I’m forever on the lookout.

Wandering Wednesday’s Photo Inspiration

I’ve put together a list of upcoming photo inspirations (or should I call them themes, challenges, prompts¬†ūü§Ē) for the next few Wednesday’s. I hope you’ll join me by sharing your photos.

  • Water
  • Flowers
  • Patriotic
  • Food

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RVing in Colorado

This will be the second summer in a row that we won’t be spending any time in Colorado… sigh! I love Colorado and called it home for over twenty years. Once we sold our Colorado home and moved into the RV full-time, we still continued to spend our summers meandering around the state, that is, up until last year.

Cherry Creek, Colorado

The RV has allowed us to explore and see parts of Colorado that we never had the opportunity to experience while living in our sticks and bricks house. And while we aren’t returning to Colorado this summer by choice, that doesn’t mean a part of me isn’t missing it.

We arrived at our summer ‘home’ in Prescott, Arizona on the 1st of May and were quickly reminded how weather in the high country likes to surprise us with one last winter storm before giving way to spring.

Our home for the summer in Prescott Valley, Arizona – photo taken May 2nd ūüôĄ

Our first full day in Prescott Valley brought inclement weather in the form of rain, thunder, hail and sleet. Al and I chuckled as the loud sound of hail pummeling the roof of the RV made having a conversation impossible. After five minutes, the hail stopped leaving in its wake a thin layer of white covering the landscape which fortunately melted quickly. And also fortunate, the hail was small in size and caused no damage.

This spring storm reminded me of Colorado and made me smile as fond memories flooded my mind. With that said, I thought I’d do a little reminiscing by sharing with you one of my favorite mountain towns in Colorado. Here’s a blog post I wrote a while back….

Everyone’s Favorite Mountain Town

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t like Telluride, Colorado.  If I had to recommend one Colorado mountain town to visit, it would definitely be Telluride.  There’s a little something for everyone to enjoy. Plus, how could anyone resist a place where there’s usually a herd of elk in a meadow on the edge of town welcoming visitors to the area?

Telluride, Colorado

We’ve had the pleasure of visiting this charming mountain town a few times over the past few years and each visit was truly a joy.  First off, Telluride is beautiful.  I mean, drop dead gorgeous. It sits in a canyon surrounded by steep forested mountains and cliffs along with the stunning Bridal Veil Falls seen at the far end of the canyon.

Telluride was founded in 1878 as a mining settlement.  By the 1970’s, the extensive mining in the area was replaced by ski tourism.  By the mid 1990’s, Colorado’s best kept secret was discovered by celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise, and Oliver Stone.

Although Telluride is well-known for outstanding ski slopes, the summer months have actually become more popular with tourists as the town hosts a variety of festivals, including film festivals and endurance events all summer long.  The outdoor recreation is fantastic and even offers extreme hiking: Via Ferrata.

Via Ferrata

Via Ferrate in Telluride. Photo courtesy of Wiki

Telluride, CO

Newer home styles seem to blend in well with the surroundings.

I love the architecture in Telluride. Each structure is one of a kind. There’s a beautiful blend of old and new which captivates my attention and appeals to my taste. There‚Äôs a hiking trail that allows one to wander from town all the way out toward Bridal Veil Falls allowing a visitor to admire the houses along the way …. each unique and attractive.

Telluride, CO

I was in love with these houses – restored 1800’s

Trivia:  The famous bank robber, Butch Cassidy, committed his first recorded major crime in Telluride by robbing the San Miguel Valley Bank in 1889 and exiting the bank with over $24,000.

Telluride, Colorado

This charming Rocky Mountain town located in southwestern Colorado is most definitely worth a visit and goes to the top of my favorites list.  The town boasts a population of less than 3,000 and sits at an elevation of 8,750 feet.

Bridal Veil Falls

At the base of Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls in the far distance

We‚Äôve enjoyed hikes to Bridal Veil Falls, shopped the Friday morning Farmer‚Äôs Market, and taken the¬†free Gondola ride – a bonus not to be missed. We‚Äôve¬†taken a back country 4√ó4 road¬†to get to Telluride which I call the ‘back way’.¬† We‚Äôve eaten at several tasty restaurants,¬†met fellow bloggers for a brew,¬†and generally savored the vibe and beauty that is quintessential Telluride.

Where to eat in Telluride

We’ve eaten at several restaurants throughout town but our personal favorites are eating at the local farmers market or Smuggler’s Brewery. At¬†Smuggler’s Brew Pub,¬†they serve up a great burger along with some tasty brews. Al always orders a beer called “Debauchery“. With its 10% alcohol content, it’s served in a brandy sniffer in lieu of the normal beer glass. With Debauchery’s high alcohol content combined with Telluride’s near 9,000 foot elevation, one drink is usually hubby’s limit, especially if I’ve planned lots of walking afterwards ūüėĄ

Telluride, Colorado

Camping near Telluride

Whenever we’ve visited Telluride, we’ve always camped at Ridgway State Park, about an hours drive away.  The park offers sites accommodating tents and large RV’s alike.  Ridgway State Park is one of our favorite campgrounds in western Colorado.

Tee PeeMuch closer to Telluride is a delightful National Forest Campground;  Sunshine Campground.  The campground is super close to Mountain Village where one can park and catch the free gondola taking you up and over the mountain into Telluride.

We would love to stay at the Sunshine Campground due to its stunning views and near proximity to Telluride, but unfortunately, we’d barely¬†fit into a couple of sites and the turning radius to navigate into and around this campground is tighter than our comfort level allows, but this campground is perfect for smaller RV’s.

Further down the road is the¬†Matterhorn Campground, also a National Forest Campground, and this place can accommodate just about anyone, but finding an available site might prove to be difficult. It’s a very popular place.

 For those traveling with tents, vans, or small RV’s,     the perfect place to camp to really immerse oneself     into the Telluride lifestyle is the Telluride Town Park   Campground.  Nestled in a grove of pine trees along   a   creek, it’s within walking distance to festival   venues,   restaurants, and shops.  Obviously where   there are   trees, there are low branches and tight   turning   radius’.  Thus, not an option for us.  Once   again, small   RV’s have the advantage.

Note; during festivals this campground is jam-packed making it difficult for even a Honda Civic to navigate.

Lodging in Telluride

And when it comes to other types of lodging, should camping not be your thing, Telluride has it all.  Check out this guide for more information on planning your visit to Telluride, one of my favorite Colorado mountain towns, and enjoy your own Rocky Mountain getaway. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

With so much natural beauty along with an abundance of things to see and do, it’s no wonder Telluride could easily be referred to as ‘everyone’s favorite mountain town‘.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away – Maya Angelou

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